PLAYDAR: Dido’s Greatest Hits (Yes, There Are More Than Two)
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the track “NYC,” by long-thought-extinct British songstress Dido. My expectations? Admittedly, registering low on the pop-euphoria meter. My actual reaction? Off the charts. It was sexy, it had a thumping beat, a disco groove — it was right up my alley. I then got a little excited (maybe too excited) to find out what else existed in her discography, and came to find that — surprise, surprise! — the cut derives from Dido’s just-released Greatest Hits album. First thought: Greatest Hits? What’s left after “Thank You” and “White Flag”? So, I dove into Dido’s collection of tunes and — well, girl was I ever wrong. In its own way, Dido’s latest disc is quite impressive.
Dido’s musical spotlight has been twitching on and off with a cracked bulb since the early ’00s — that’s no secret. But today, I want to screw in a new one and let some light shine on this underrated songbird’s tragically neglected singles collection.
The first half of the set’s tracks you may (kind of) remember. It opens with “Here With Me,” a haunting Portishead-esque track that gained popularity on the radio thanks in part to being the theme song to late-’90s teen show, Roswell. (The WB network, anyone?) And of course, most are familiar with “Stan,” the Eminem smash single that featured a sample of Dido’s “Thank You.” It was from there that Dido began her pop reign — or at least for a flickering moment. The multi-platinum album No Angel — which contained aforementioned hits — was followed up with 2003’s Life For Rent, which contained the drab (if astonishingly successful) single “White Flag” and … uh, that’s about it.
And bring in the unknowns.
The album’s second half consists of singles taken from her 2008 album Safe Trip Home and this year’s release, The Girl Who Got Away. Never heard of them? That’s because the records failed to make an impact on U.S. album charts — at all. It’s a shame, because most of these tracks are respectable offerings. The singles, “Don’t Leave Home,” and “Sand in My Shoes,” are easy-on-the-ears acoustic tracks. Other singles, like “Grafton Street” and “Don’t Believe in Love,” are frothy numbers that blend light acoustics with electronica, packing the ultimate punch with Dido’s angelic vocals. Closing the set is “Let Us Move On,” a track released this year that features a pair-up with hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar. An odd match-up, yet somehow, it works.
But my girl Dido’s at her best when she’s pretending to be the fierce disco queen she was destined to be, but never really became. The pulsating singles “End of Night” and “One Step Too Far” are, by any standard, perfect for sexy romps on the dance floor. Similarly, “NYC” is sultry goodness with a trance-like chorus. Sex and the City 2 soundtrack’s “Everything to Lose” brings up the rear with an after-hours-lounge sizzle — and with a gay-movie tie-in (c’mon, it’d might as well be a gay movie), what’s not to love?
Overall, Dido’s energy throughout her first (and likely last) Greatest Hits remains pure and simple. And that, folks, is something we don’t get in pop music today, with all the Little Monsters and twerk-aholics running the pop gamut trying to one-up each other. Considering all the over-processed music that’s taken over airwaves, it’s refreshing to escape and give a salute to an artist who ruled the charts in a much simpler time, with some simple-but-timeless beats.
Highlights from Dido’s Greatest Hits:
1. “Here With Me”
2. “Stan” (Eminem feat. Dido)
3. “Thank You”
4. “Don’t Believe in Love”
6. “Everything to Lose”
7. “Let Us Move On (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”
8. “White Flag”